I accepted an invitation to join a golf league.
Our season started in the snow, in April, and we’re beginning the playoffs as I pen this love letter. Yes, I love being a part of The Hooligans Golf League. Our home course is Bob-O-Link in the Cleveland suburb of Avon. Owned and operated by the Fitch family, Bob-O-Link hosts dozens of weekly leagues on its four nines. I had never played Bob-O-Link until joining the league. Now it feels like a Wednesday evening home.
The color-coded nines — we rotate among the Blue, Gold, White and Red — are flat, fun and filled with possibilities. Close matches feature dramatic endings. The Gold, White and Red end with par 5s; the Blue ends with a drivable par 4 fronted by a creek.
The Hooligans are a laid-back bunch. Music blares from carts and drinks flow on Wednesdays. Our competitions are congenial. We keep score and compile league handicaps. The champion receives a gaudy trophy and a dinner conducted in his honor. We celebrated the 2019 champion by bringing a Polish food truck to the course. Our reigning king has experienced a huge golf year. Keith recorded a hole-in-one in May and another one in July. Nobody in our league would be surprised if he has a trifecta of 2020 aces by the time this column is published.
Everything about the league experience has been a personal hole-in-one. I pondered joining a league for years. But I waffled, using deadlines and travel to rationalize why I couldn’t commit one scheduled evening per week to playing golf. Sometimes it’s easier to find a reason not to do something than actually registering and participating.
Bob-O-Link is 40 minutes from our office and league play begins around 5 p.m. Regardless of what’s happening at work Wednesday afternoons, I leave the office by 4:15 p.m. The Hooligans also contest an “early 9” and I have found time on a few Wednesdays to play 18.
I adapted my work schedule, arriving earlier on Wednesdays and increasing productivity on the other six days. I lean on managing editor Matt LaWell to complete urgent Wednesday afternoon tasks. Unless pace of play reaches a crawl, I don’t check work email or @GCIMagazine social media accounts during league play. Fortunately, the Hooligans play at a brisk pace, another reason why I love our league. Traveling to and from Bob-O-Link, playing 9 holes and the occasional post-round gathering comprise around four hours of my week, leaving 164 hours to complete work and personal tasks.
In addition to the mental and physical benefits of a weekly recreational release, I’m receiving firsthand insight into the average golfer. Camaraderie matters more to most league golfers than perfect course conditions. Clubhouse smiles and solid greens, fairways and tees are enough to satisfy the majority of the returning masses. We have played an entire season without bunker rakes, hearing the ball drop into a cup or ball washers, yet 16 to 20 of us enthusiastically arrive at the course every Wednesday evening. Never underestimate what those few hours each week mean to your customers, especially during a trying year such as 2020.
If you’re waiting for the perfect circumstances to attempt something new, you’ll likely enter a rut filled with short- and long-term regrets. Devoting one day per week to an activity might seem improbable considering the demands you face at work and home. I once viewed the workday as too crammed to commit to a weekly escape. I now have new friends with different perspectives and the opportunity to play guaranteed golf each week.
Thank you, Bob-O-Link.
Thank you, Hooligans.